Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Need Your Help: Desk Mess!

Last year we undertook a three-way room switch-a-roo, moving our school room to one of the bedrooms, and then I was so kind to never show the after pictures. The reason for that was that it never completely got done, although the room was quite functional. My time for projects during the school year is non-existent, so this summer I'm wrapping up what I started last year. One benefit to this is I now have a good idea of what worked in the space and what didn't. Today I'm going to show you the main area that didn't work.

Meet Grace's desk.

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Lovely, eh? Trust me, it's been worse than this. God blessed me with creative children. All three love to draw. But Grace also loves to make things out of paper, cardboard, duct tape, fabric -- you name it! She also loves to write -- letters to her friends, poems, novels -- you name it!

I can't tell you how many needles and pins I've picked up off the floor. It's a miracle we haven't stepped on one yet. I also keep a razor blade in our school room so I can routinely scrape the glue and paint that's hardened onto her desk.

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Markers and pens are always falling off the desk...

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...even though I bought this nifty organizer at Ikea for her to store all her supplies.

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The inside of the desk is always a mess. It's supposed to hold her notebooks for school, but she can rarely fit them in there because it's holding all sorts of other stuff, including a carved tree branch!?

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The desk has two chairs, but one of them ends up just holding more stuff.

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This organizer was supposed to hold some of her books, but it's crammed with more stuff. Anytime I open a box where things are packed with cardboard I panic because I just know Grace is going to beg to keep the cardboard for another project. The piece of white cardboard behind the organizer is waiting for her next wave of inspiration. She was crushed when I wanted to recycle her empty Math U See Gamma workbook because she thought it would make a great folder for her American Girl dolls' school work. {Sigh}

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Moving to the floor area, we have a basket of her overflow stuff, a guitar made out of a tissue box and paper towel holder, and on the window ledge is a darling little house she created. To her credit, the papers on the floor are mine -- I was filing papers yesterday and they fell off the arm of the couch.

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So there you have it. Clearly this isn't just an organizational issue; we have a discipline problem too. But I'm at my wits end trying to figure out how to make this space work. How do you encourage your child's creativity without wanting to scream every time you enter the room? Here are some of the things I'm pondering:

  • Do I make this a school only zone and move her creative activities elsewhere? I'm not sure where that would be, but I might be able to set up an area in her room. We've already moved her sewing supplies there (which begs the question why are there still pins on the desk?!), but she doesn't really have a workspace up there. 
  • The desk stays for another year or two. Last summer we bought Anna a new desk, this summer it was Ryne, so we have to make this desk work for now. It's a great desk, but things tend to get lost in the little cubbies. I could take away one of the chairs and put some storage under there. Drawers maybe?
  • I could really use some ideas on how to motivate her to keep this area clean. She's perfectly happy to work with it like it is. We've tried having a rule that it has to be picked up before she goes to bed, but something always happens like I call her for dinner while she's in the middle of something and then we all forget about it until it's past bedtime. 

So here's the deal. If you ever want to see pictures of our finished school room, you need to help me figure out what to do with this space. Pretty, please? 


  1. This is my daughter to a "t"! Seriously cracked me up. She is very creative but so, SO messy. Messes don't bother her. At all. But I have definitely had to "crack down" on it because it's not courteous to everyone else to leave her area messy. I literally have to go through step by step and show her over and over again how to clean up and where to put things. She is getting better though. I let her make a mess when creating, but then it has to be cleaned up. Parenting can be so challenging, huh? =)

    1. Thanks Laine! I like your comment about it not being courteous to others. We've had several talks about this, but I never put it that way and since she's also a people pleaser that just might strike a chord. : )

  2. I can relate! This was Hannah 3+ years ago. She loved summer when the school room was all hers. : ) When Sam made the school room his bedroom, her art things (as well as mine) were relegated to our basement. One of my projects this summer was to reorganize the art stuff. Thankfully I have two filing cabinets for storage...but oh they were a mess inside! Much better now...I'll show you some pics on Sunday. : )

    1. Cleaning out my filing cabinets is on my project list this week too -- you can see it next to Grace's desk. It's amazing how much junk you can hide in there. ; ) Can't wait to see your pics!

  3. ROFL & gasping for breath! This was so Brian's room before the makeover-- just exchange sewing & American Girls with paper airplanes & bird sketches. I feel your pain but must laugh along with you. Okay, yes to designated art space. It has helped tremendously at our house. I will post pix of his new space after we get through next week's events & make curtains. Maybe there will be some ideas you can use.

    Oh, and papers falling off the arm of the sofa... that's so me!

    1. Yes, I can't wait to see the room reveal! I think you're right about the designated art space and I just had lightbulb moment -- since we got Ryne a new desk and I can use his old one (identical to Grace's) to put in her bedroom. Honestly, I can't believe I didn't think of that yet! My biggest hesitation in creating a separate creative area was that this desk is so easy to clean up because of the laminate surface.